#StaffPick: The Alienist by Caleb Carr

The Alienist by Caleb Carr
599 pages. Bantam Books 1995.
9780553572995
Fiction, Historical Suspense

The Alienist is a historical suspense novel that has sold millions of copies and inspired the acclaimed Netflix series of the same name. Riveting pace and sensuous historical detail combine to create one of the great works in this genre. The setting is New York in 1896 – John Schuler Moore, a crime reporter, is awoken at two o’clock in the morning to a desperate pounding on his door. A panicked errand boy informs John that he has been summoned by his friend the eminent alienist and physician Dr. Laszlo Kreizler. No further explanation is given. Upon his arrival, John will bear witness to the mutilated body of a boy who has been found on a bridge on the Lower East Side. A cryptic message has been left by Krietzler, “TERRIBLE ERRORS HAVE BEEN MADE. I WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE MORNING”. What follows is a desperate attempt in the emerging art of criminal profiling to prevent the execution of the city’s most vulnerable. Atmospheric and disturbing, those who enjoyed the TV series Ripper Street or couldn’t put down The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova will be transfixed by The Alienist.

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